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Household Chemicals Linked to Early Puberty, Infertility

Group Pushes for New Laws, More Study on Common Chemicals

Limiting Exposure to Chemicals continued...

There are things that people can do today to lower their exposure levels if they are concerned, says Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, an associate professor and director of University of California - San Francisco's Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.

These chemicals and their residue can also be found in dust, so keeping the house clean can help lower exposure, Woodruff says.

Giudice routinely discusses these issues with her patients, but tries to frame it in a non-alarmist sort of way.

"We are very careful not to be alarming unless there are really strong data," says Giudice.

For example, the risks of mercury exposure during pregnancy are fairly well known, and women are counseled to limit their exposure during pregnancy by avoiding fish high in mercury.

"Most patients are very motivated as parents or potential parents and are very receptive on how to minimize their exposure and maximize their health during pregnancy and the health of their baby," she says. "We don't know when the exposure may occur and feeling guilty is not the thing we want to instill in these patients."

Role of Congress

Andy Igrejas, the national campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in Washington, D.C., says many states are addressing these issues with laws designed to protect consumers from the potential health effect of toxic chemicals. "There has been quite a bit of momentum and a handful of states have passed policies that are more comprehensive and designed to move away from toxins and chemicals," he says.

What Congress will do and how much responsibility industry will take is not yet known, he says.

Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, says he would not count on the federal legislation passing any time soon. The National Center for Public Policy Research is a Washington, D.C.-based conservative think tank.

"For decades, activists have been hyping fear in order to advance their legislative agenda which reduces consumer choice and adds to our costs, without making us any safer," says Stier. "As Congress considers TSCA Reform, known as the Safe Chemicals Act, be prepared for another round of scaremongering designed to influence legislation," he says.

"It is unlikely that it will pass," he says. "It is not a priority for this Congress, and the next Congress won't support it."

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